A consumer advocacy group is calling for a law that would block the tracking of consumer Internet behavior because it says a self-regulatory privacy program created by the online advertising industry does not protect shoppers.
The new self-imposed program was scheduled to take effect on Monday for some advertisers, but the group Consumer Watchdog said Congress still needs to pass “Do Not Track Me” legislation in order to fully protect consumer privacy.
“The self-regulatory program created by the online behavioral advertising industry is not a "Do Not Track" option because it does not allow consumers to opt out of tracking,” the group said in a statement.” It offers a limited privacy feature consumers may use to block targeted advertisements from participating companies.”
Specifically, the group said the program fails in several areas.
• Transparency: Consumers are not notified of when or why they are being tracked, and can only opt out of targeted ads by clicking on icons — if they notice them — as they surf the net;
• Universality: The opt-out icons are only offered by a small percentage of online advertisers.
• Enforceability: The states have no jurisdiction, and the promises by advertisers not to target online consumers can only be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and;
• Mobile device users cannot opt-out of online tracking.
Consumer Watchdog acknowledged that the privacy program offered by some advertisers is “a small step” in the direction of giving consumers more protection from targeted ads.
But Carmen Balber, the Washington, D.C., director of the group, said the reality is “consumers have no more control today than they did yesterday over whether their information is tracked and collected by companies online.”
“Action by Congress and the FTC to require a 'Do Not Track Me' option is crucial for consumers to gain control over their own information,” she said.
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